Park should be open for blues festival

Published 7:00 am Saturday, June 18, 2016

Bogalusa Public Works Director James Hall said repairs to Cassidy Park are moving along quickly and, if they continue at the current pace, the park should be ready for the Bogalusa Blues and Heritage Festival in September.

“It should be,” he said. “If we can stay the course we have now, we ought to be able to have it with no trouble.”

Recently the city removed the play equipment near the creek at the rear of the park. The equipment was badly damaged after flooding on March 11 ripped out large sections of sandy soil. The flooding tore several large holes into the park’s surface, including one directly below the play area, and much of the metal equipment lay in a twisted pile. Still, shortly after the flooding, there was talk of saving some of the equipment, but Hall said it couldn’t be done.

“All of it was pretty much destroyed,” he said. “There wasn’t hardly anything in there we could save. I couldn’t believe how badly the water damaged stuff you would never think it could (damage). It picked up concrete culverts and carried them away. Water is a powerful force.”

With the equipment gone, the hole remains. However, Hall said he expects to start filling the hole with clay next week.

“We need to fill about four or five feet of clay in there, so when we’re ready to put more playground equipment in there we’ll have a solid foundation,” he said.

However, once the hole in the play area is filled, the park will be safer, and at that point Hall said residents can volunteer inside the park.

“So we’re probably talking two or three more weeks before we get volunteers in there,” Hall said.

Though the city has still not received any money from FEMA, Hall said they’ve managed to keep costs low through a variety of methods, and the city has only spent about $2,000 extra to fix the park.

One of the avenues of cost savings has been the Louisiana Workforce Commission, the state agency that provides jobs for people. Hall said the city has six employees from them, and the state is paying their wages.

“I can work them 27 or 28 hours a week,” he said. “I have put all six of them in the park and I put them in the rear of the park and we’re working our way through.”

Hall said he will have the workers for 27 weeks, and he’s used them for three weeks already.

He said the extra manpower saves the city money and it also means his departmental employees can spend time doing other things.

“There’s only one supervisor who is there,” he said. “So I didn’t have to take all my people off the streets. I still have to take them off the streets on occasion, but not all the time.”

Hall also pointed out that with the extra manpower, he is managing to fix, clean and repair parts of the park that have needed work for some time.

“We’re doing everything we can while the park is down,” he said.

This includes repairing a pavilion, building new benches, power washing concrete and generally sprucing things up.

“We’re doing things we should have done a while ago,” he said.